Cross legged on the grass, I watched, as he looked skyward, eyes raised toward heaven. His mind was transcending the here and now. Gone was the hill he’d yet to climb, faded were the saddest memories, their burden heavy, for one caught up in the prime of life. A weight had lifted off his shoulders, dropped at his feet. For a moment, he’d entered a mystical space. 

In that moment, I thought him brave.

TBC

Draft

‘Dream On’

1974

It takes patience to procure the perfect cup of coffee beginning with the French beans to the water’s roll. Next, is the slow pour over and finally, the decisive press.

Take pleasure in the art. It’ s a ritual allowing time to be.

Rain hits the pavement. Leaves dance in the wind. Somewhere, in the distance, a door slams. A wind chime rustles. A baby cries.

I am still. Peace waits within sips of strong coffee.

The first taste is always too hot. The last, too cold. There is a moment between these two extremes, the sacred space of seeded memories, whispered prayers, the spot where lovers meet.

You say, “Come to me.”

We are in Paris. You take my hand and lead me to shelter, far from the storm.

The Art of Coffee In The Rain

draft

My presence was unexpected. I glanced at my watch. It was too early for him to be home.

He stared as if confronting a ghost.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in class?”

“I finished early.’

We stand frozen in position on concrete. Me, holding a textbook and purse. Him, a suitcase.

I ask, “Going somewhere?”

He nods.

“Where?”

“I’ll be in touch.” The car door slams.

The Chevy shifts into reverse and backs up the driveway. Wheels catch at the steep part of the grade. His foot pushes hard onto the accelerator. The Impala leaps the rise.

I chase him, run to the top of the hill, watch as the tail lights fade, the car a blur in the distance. Once I realize that I can not stop him, that he isn’t turning back, I return to the house. Opening the door to his cupboard, I notice one suit remains. I take this as a sign of hope.

The scent of tobacco lingers. I ease the jacket from the hanger and bury my face into the sleeve. I let tears wet the wool.

This isn’t the story I share with Margaret. Instead I tell her I have just this morning, broken up with a guy. It isn’t exactly truth however it allows me to feel less defeated. I can’t speak of Roy. It would be too chancy.

Margaret wields the teapot. She allows me to wallow in grief. When one cup empties, she pours another. This is the code of women, the luxury of holding space for one another. Or as my mother might say of the sisters, “the polite pause before they bury the body.”

There is no doubt. Margaret is in charge of our discussion. She raises her pinky and turns to her sister. “Good riddance, I say.” Both women nod in agreement.

“Chin up, dearie,” sister says. “March on.”

A certain shabbiness rumbles deceit and rheumy eyes are evidence. Sister’s eyes mirror too many surrenders, too much disappointment. Margaret’s are resolute. Yet, both women offer up saucers of hope as they perch and trill like skylarks on a branch.

For a moment, I wonder. When did he become someone else? Was it before his trip or after? My eyes narrow as I scan the past for clues. What was it he had said as the potatoes were set upon the table?

He had said, “Feels like we only go backwards, baby.”

He has cheapened himself. I notice the golden horn dangling about his neck. His fitted shirt is made of fortrel. The collar splays open. He’d look good in a rainstorm.

A rustle carries me home to the present. Sister stands and places her hand upon my shoulder. Fingers press as she speaks.

“All good things end, child.”

I had thought we were the exception…

~ Excerpt From the Scene: Roy Splits

TBC

Draft 4

The Clean-Up Man

Roy fumbled with the coins in his pocket. A single incandescent bulb lit up each table- top. The heat in the room glowed and a smoky haze veiled the guests. He peered deeper into the shrouded depths of the room.

Paper serviettes stacked the bar. Shot glasses lined up, topped to the max, the amber liquid ready to swallow. Next to an ice bucket, a hard-boiled bouncer stood sentry. Suffocating evidence, all compliments of the club.

A stream of light demanded Roy’s attention. The beam shot from the bar, stopped just short of his foot. His gaze followed the beam; back-lit by the mirror that covered the wall behind the bar.

A blonde in a tight black dress curved against a man. He saw the light bounce off the rock that hung at the base of her neck. He heard her familiar laugh and listened as the high, trilling notes fell like glitter over the men in the room.

Her eye was on the man known as Kid. One elbow high, black glove, held his back. Birdie.